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Rose's Tips for Cake Baking

Nov 16, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose

Before beginning to bake, read the recipe through and note plan ahead’s.

If at all possible, make the recipe the way it is indicated. Don’t substitute ingredients before making it at least once to see the way it’s supposed to come out.

When preparing ingredients ahead, cover them with plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out or evaporate.

When a recipe calls for softened butter it means the butter should still feel cool but be easy to press down. This usually takes about 30 minutes at room temperature but slicing it in smaller pieces speeds up the process.

Unless a cake recipe indicates otherwise, it is important to use bleached flour for the best texture.

Cocoa should be sifted to remove lumps and make it easier to measure accurately.

If measuring flour rather than weighing it avoid tapping or shaking the cup. This would pack in much more flour and the cake would be heavy and dry.

To combine flour, salt, and leavening such as baking powder or baking soda evenly use a whisk.

Eggs vary greatly in size and also in proportion of yolk to white. Either use weight or volume especially when a recipe calls for all yolks. A recipe requiring 4 yolks may need as many as 7 if the yolks are very small.

To break eggs the most evenly without shattering the shell, set a paper towel on the counter top to absorb any white that will spill out and rap the side of the egg sharply on top of the towel. It will break more neatly than if rapping it against the edge of a bowl.

When separating eggs, pour each white into a smaller bowl before adding it to the larger amount of whites. If even a trace of yolk or grease gets into the white it will be impossible to beat stiffly. If a small amount of yolk should get into the white, use the eggshell to fish it out.

If the bowl in which you are beating the whites is not totally grease free, wet a paper towel, add a little vinegar to it and wipe out the bowl. Then rinse it and dry it well.

Use 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar per 2 tablespoons/1 ounce/30 grams of egg white (1 teaspoon for 8 egg whites). Add the cream of tartar to the egg white after it starts foaming. This will prevent drying or overbeating the whites. Egg whites can be frozen for over a year.

When using either a stand or hand-held electric mixer, always start on low speed and gradually work your way up to designated speed to keep ingredients from jumping out of the bowl. For stand mixers, either use the splatter shield that comes with the mixer or drape a large piece of plastic wrap over the top of the bowl. Flour won’t stick to the plastic wrap the way it would to a cloth towel and you can see through the plastic wrap.

When using stand mixers use the flat paddle beater except when making meringue or sponge-type cakes that depend on the eggs for an airy texture. The whisk attachment will do a more effective job of aeration.

Use the correct size pans. Choose round or square cake pans with straight, not sloped, sides as the sloped-sided pans have a smaller volume. If in doubt, never fill a pan more than two-thirds full unless indicated in the recipe. An exception to this is a cake baked in a tube pan, which can come up to about 1 inch from the top of the pan.

Shiny, heavy aluminum pans conduct the heat best without over-browning the crust. If using dark pans lower the oven temperature by 25˚F.

Line the bottom of layer cake pans with parchment to keep the cake from sticking.

To prevent doming and dryness at the edges use Rose’s Heavenly Cake Strips to wrap around the sides of the pan. This equalizes the baking between the sides of the pan and the center and keeps the edges of the cake moist as well.

Most cakes bake best near the center of the oven, which requires placing a rack in the lower third. If baking more than one pan be sure the pans have at least 1 inch in between them and also between them and the sides of the oven. If necessary, bake them on two racks staggering them so that one is not directly over the other.

Preheat the oven a minimum of 20 minutes before baking. If using a convection setting lower the heat 25˚F. (This is not usually necessary for countertop ovens.)

If cakes seem to be browning unevenly, it’s fine to turn them half way around after three quarters of the estimated baking time. (Exceptions are sponge cakes that should not be moved until baked fully.)

Choose cooling racks with fine wire mesh and spray them with cooking spray to prevent the cake layers from sticking to them.

Layer cakes usually should be cooled in the pan set on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding and then reinverted so that the firm upper crust is up.

Sponge-type cakes baked in layer cake pans need to be unmolded immediately after baking.

Sponge-type cakes baked in tube pans, such as chiffons and angel food cakes, need to be suspended up-side-down and away from drafts until completely cool.

For the most attractive sides for angel food and chiffon cakes, coat the sides of the pan with a thin layer of the batter before adding the rest of the batter. When unmolding, run a thin metal spatula between the sides of the cake and the sides of the pan, pressing firmly against the pan and using an up and down motion. Use a thin wire cake tester to run around the center tube.

To get the most perfect design when using fluted tube pans, either coat them with baking spray with grease and flour or oil and then dust with flour, preferably Wondra or sifted flour. Tap out any excess. If using a spray, to ensure the best coating, use a small brush to go into the grooves. Spoon about one-third of the batter into the pan and press it back and forth with the back of a spoon. This will ensure that the batter goes into all the crevices. Then pour in the rest of the batter

Cut cheesecake with dental floss held taut. A deeply serrated knife works best for other cakes.

Once a cake is cut, use plastic wrap or slices of white bread against the cut sides to keep them from drying.

When purchasing chocolate, choose the percentage cacao indicated in the recipe. This refers to the amount of chocolate, the remainder of which is sugar. Using too high a percentage cacao will, for example, make a chocolate ganache bitter and too firm, causing it to separate from the cake when cutting it.

When frosting cake layers it is best to place each layer bottom-side-up to avoid crumbs in the frosting. It is easiest to start with a very small amount to create a crumb coating before applying the rest.


I have only 27 litre convection oven so can't bake several cake layers at a time.I want to know how long can I keep cake batter before baking? And where should I leave it?


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Mehak B Jain
10/18/2014 03:32 PM

Mehak, most cakes have some holes but if they are tunnels or excessive, either it's the recipe you are using or over-beating. We suggest you contact the author of the recipe as starters to see if this is characteristic of the recipe.


Mehak B Jain
Mehak B Jain
10/18/2014 12:31 PM

My chocolate cake has holes in centre when i slice them horizontaly for icing
even if i am keeping the receipy intact.
Plz guide me what is going wrong??


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Naomi
10/16/2014 03:46 PM

Naomi, either way would be fine but it's fine to make it the day before, refrigerate, and then let it come to room temperature. i would opt to make it the day of and no need to refrigerate.


Hi! I am planning to bake the Apple Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake. I intend to bake it a day in advance and leave it overnight for a dinner party the following evening. Is that alright? Or is it better if I bake it in the day itself n keep it in the fridge til the party? Would love to know what you think! Thank you!


sorry gillian--i couldn't resist. and besides there is truth in what i said.

i'm terribly excited about the newest book rose's heavenly cakes because it's all the new things i learned and perfected since the cake bible 22 years ago so if i had to choose one cake book i would choose that one BUT if you want to have an understanding of the way cakes work and foundation base recipes of every sort to make variations, then it's the cake bible.


gillian, do you mean which one of my babies i love the most?


I want to buy one of your cake cookbooks. Which one would you recommend?


Hi Rose,

Thanks for your reply. I live in Melbourne and looking at the American recipes that require one 2-layer cake mix. What does that mean if I use your pound cake recipe?


sure kathy! it may take 5 more minute of baking time and make sure there is space between the pans and the sides of the oven for air circulation or stagger the pans on two racks so one is not on top of the other. if you do this it's best to move the bottom one to the top and the top to the bottom after about 20 minutes of baking.


Hi, I am new to baking. I made Rose's white velvet butter cake 3 times and everyone loves it. I want to try the red velvet with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Can I double the recipes since I want to make a two layer cake? Thanks.


I have 2 questions:
(1) Why does my Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake crack on the top whereas the All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter cake does not?
(2) I have a small oven and thus, I have to bake the 2-layer butter cakes one layer at a time (keeping the batter in the refrigerator). I read that I need to bake the sponge cakes all at once -- how do I do so with my small oven>


vicki, i prefer non-stick and my fav 9 x 2 pans are the chicago metallic. they have perfectly straight sides as well.


thank you julie and i'm sure it's all of YOU who put me there!


thank you kathleen--also crumb free!


What a good tip to place each layer bottom side up when frosting. This will insure a completely flat top to the finished cake.


Thanks for this wonderful list- one can never have enough reminders! And congratulations on RHC- a bestseller!


This is such a great list and mystery solved. My cake pans are dark on the outside and I have not been lowering the temperature 25 degrees. I am still wondering if it is better to use regular or non stick. It seems all pans are non stick these days.


Wow congratulations!! I think I need another copy because I have already stained mine and have had to unstick several pages that got glued together.


i know what you mean about being in a good mood for weeks bc i am dancing on air--the new book is #19 out of the 100 top books on amazon. amazing!!!


Thank you so much Rose! I am going to tatoo your comments on the inside of my eyelids!* I am so pleased that you are impressed with my execution of this fabulous recipe. I have been looking forward to it for so long (hector can attest to that), and it exceeded my expectations.
I was also happy that the glaze's shine returned after being dulled in the car by my overzealous air conditioning. I didn't have a hair dryer as suggested in the recipe but the reception hall was a bit warmer than standard room temp because of dancing an a wood burning stove in one corner...and by the time it was cake-cutting time, it was a high gloss lacquer again.
I think I will be in a good mood for weeks!

*Kidding of course!


rachelino, i'll have to find your wedding cake on the forums but your photo of the chocolate lacquer glaze and victory hand sign reflecting in it on your blog is stunning!


Rose thank you for all your tips in the Cake Bible and now Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I made a wedding cake this weekend (posted in the forums and on my blog site) with your classic raspberry sauce, and the new golden neoclassic buttercream, ganache undercoat and the dark chocolate lacquer glaze, and it went very smoothly. The smoothest a large baking project has ever gone for me.
I believe this was due to a lot of preparation from your books. Even though a lot of it I know, I obsessively read the equipment and ingredients sections of RHC, as well as these layer cake tips, and the individual recipes...to glean whatever I could in advance. Thank you, thank you for all your hard work, testing and willingess to share it with us.


thanks barbara--fixed. uh oh i'd better look at those postings!


Such good advice!

If you read the Heavenly Cake Bakers blogs for this week, you'll find several of us will want to add "Don't forget to add all the ingredients!"

That includes me. Sigh.

And by the way, it should be "Cut cheesecake with dental floss held taut." (Not taught.)


Thank you for this great summary! I would love to know more about baking cakes with convection. I have tried baking more than one rack full of cakes in my oven and it is a disaster -- they are never baked evenly. As a result, I can only do two cakes (provided they are not > 9") at one time, even though I have a regular, full-sized home oven. I do have a convection oven, but I have never dared to use it for baking cakes. Is this preferable to non-convection?



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